In an attempt to replenish the water treatment sector with qualified technicians Northern College is seeking approval from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to deliver a two-year water technicians co-op program.
The Ontario Clean Water Agency approached Northern College to inform them of industry needs. With a state-of-the-art water facility in Timmins, and the agency’s backing, the college set out to create a curriculum for the program. Now they are awaiting ministry approval.
“Part of what the ministry wanted to see (in the research) was a demonstrated need for the course, and so we have been receiving feedback from Northern Ontario communities saying they will be hiring so many people in the next five years,” Richard Kallio, professor with Northern College in Timmins, says.
The program entails three academic and three co-operative semesters with each term lasting four months. It will focus on the treatment, distribution of wastewater, collection and solid-waste management operations within a water treatment plant.
Students in the first term will undergo a government approved operator and training test. This will allow them to gain access to practical knowledge through qualified water treatment plant engineers and technicians.
Ontario Environmental Training Consortium has devised a licensing system for plant operators after the Walkerton tragedy. Each operator working in the plant will need to pass government certification. In a few years it will be mandatory that everyone involved in water treatment operations posses proper licensing.
The program is expected to be approved for the fall 2004 semester and graduates can expect to earn between $25,000 to $50,000 a year.